Crappy Voice(?) and Angel(s)

Happy first Monday of March, people! Please tell me spring is a-comin’–I am D.O.N.E. with snow and the cold.

So how cool is this li’l cutie hubby found on Facebook? I certainly hope he’s for real! (Video is 1:34–pinky swear it will make your day!)

So last Wednesday was blog-post fodder, everyone. A little of everything: kid drama and humor; a could-be problematic incident for me with an angel (?) or heavy-duty coincidence stepping in.

Day started off okay. Managed to focus and work on a report despite much preferring to chat with coworkers.

Drama showed with one of my third graders who has next-to no impulse control when he’s with one particular classmate. Tried seeing what I’d do when he pushed my buttons. Forced me to  put on my “discipline” hat  (i.e., make an active choice to not make excuses for his behavior b/c of his special needs).  I followed through: “Third warning. Back to class and tell your teacher you lost a point.” (This is big for them in class, lol. I felt so mean too. When you’ve had kids on your roster since they were three, you start to love them much the way you love your own.)

So we were practicing “French”, as his classmate refers to cursive handwriting. (Beats the kids who want to write in “curses.” Yes, many of my guys have delays and/or difficulty with speech, especially articulation. You learn the lingo after a while.) This little cutie of Costa-Rican born parents somehow inherited a mild accent that his parents don’t have. He is not, however, lacking in command of English or connecting verbal dots.

One of the girls was having a hard time with forming the letters. I took a peek at her paper and started to comment on where she was having a problem. “Okay, Mrs. Joanna. Please don’t yell at me.”

Huh???

“Since when does Mrs. Joanna yell?” (I rarely raise my voice.)

Li’l Costa Rican accent pipes in: “Mrs. Joanna doesn’t yell. She’s just using her crappy voice.”

He. Did. Not. Say. That–Oh! Li’l Accent Boy was referring to my typical line when they’re making me nuts, “Why do I need to use my crabby voice?”

What can I say? My students get to know me too.

And the day progressed until I had to leave one school to go to another. Dragged three bags, my binder and a travel coffee mug to the car. Had to do a bit of shuffling to get to the keys, dump everything in and take off.

Got to second school with five minutes to spare before session time. Grabbed the bag I’d prepacked for the 5th graders and reached for the binder with ALL my goals, objectives and progress logs.

Binder is not there.

NOOOOO! I did not leave it on the trunk and drive off!

Yanked out cell.  Called first school. Begged secretary to leave her warm office space and go to cold parking lot to look for blue binder. (Of course, the stuff inside is legal documentation as of this month, not to mention kids’ first and last names on EVERY page. And so goes HIPPA.)

Secretary came up empty. I entered second school and immediately wailed to art teacher, who is kind enough to share his room every week. (Yep. I have no real home in ANY school I work in. ‘Nuff said ‘bout that. Among the reasons I had so much stuff getting from door to car of first school.)

“Oh man,” art teacher says. “Know what’s really funny? I was wondering how you can always be so positive.”

“I’m positive I left my binder on the trunk and drove off.”

Suffered through that session—I was a tad flustered and preoccupied—and noticed a missed call from an unfamiliar, but local, landline.

Hope kicked in and I dialed my voicemail. Yay! Secretary found my binder about three blocks away, corner down in the snow! Papers dirty and wet, but cover not blown open and NOTHING missing! (IDK how it survived a left, a right and another left before finally losing contact with the car.)

Relief set in. I am not anxious by nature but this rattled me a bit, mostly b/c of the confidentiality thing.

Took at least two hours before normal calm set in. Then I realized had the other secretary picked up my first call (when I noticed my binder missing), the one who found it would have driven by the blue book stuck in the snow and ice and never thought twice. Instead she said she drove past and then, “OMG, blue!” registered. (She lives nearby and goes home for lunch daily.)

Everyone can talk coincidence as much as they want. My angel(s) stepped it up this past Wednesday. I did not complain about having to break down almost the entire binder and cover three beds with papers for them to dry. Made sure to lay them out in alphabetical order, as they are organized usually, so that re-organizing them would take less time.

Once the book was back together, I got to write the blasted notes. I suppose I was grateful I had everything I needed to do so, and will be able to turn them in, as is expected, within the next few days.

And we’re square with HIPPA (for today, anyway).

Thanks for indulging me.

This one’s kind of open. Talk to the topic or just talk. Sorry I went a little long, but at least I got something to write about in the end. (There’s that annoying positive outlook again… ;))

Have a great week,

Joanna

Happy Tuesday, everyone,

And a happy birthday shout-out to my daughter-from-another-mother. Older Son’s girlfriend turned the big 1-7 yesterday. (This post was supposed to go live on Monday, but I forgot to click the SCHEDULE button after I set the date.)  She’s been around four years already, something I still can’t believe sometimes. Luckily, she’s a very nice young lady and there is no real drama between them.

I’m always  a bit sad watching an Olympic flame go down. Being a lover of athletic ability in so many forms—especially since God did not put superstar status coordination into this writer girl—I  so enjoy living vicariously watching the grace and power of those who are. (I get to the tennis courts whenever I can. Luckily, I can hit a few good flat shots–I so can’t do any spin on the ball–and let’s not talk serve.)

I will NOT  miss listening to the rather biased coverage and talk involving American-Russian rivalry re: medal counts, hockey games, etc. That’s just not me, and the Olympics is a place where the world supposedly comes together, right? (Just sayin’…)

Sochiolympicflame

Image credit: Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (Pretty sure I did this properly. Feel free to let me know in the comments or privately if I didn’t. Thnx!)

Having my life back from the TV is always nice (barring Law & Order SVU re-runs—those suck me in almost every time; Modern Family is starting to get me too and I just walked away from auditions for The Voice). Indian Wells, the ‘fifth slam’ of tennis starts March 6th…Dancing with the Stars is about four weeks away… There goes Monday night…again.

Back on track: I haven’t written about writing for a while, nor do I plan to now. What???

I did, however, come across a couple of great posts from The Write Practice, to whose posts I subscribe. I recently moved from lurker to commenter/participant and am finding a very supportive community. (Writers can be like that, cheering each other on, helping each other out, paying it forward…you know.)

In lieu of musings by me, I figured I’d share an exercise prompted by this post, Let Me Be Your Muse. Writer/blogger Joy Collado of the Phillipines suggests I do nothing but write in response to what my character(s) have to say about their feelings relative to me and getting their stories into some kind of existence. Let me tell you, some of mine are pretty dang frustrated, lol. Here is a very short excerpt of the fruits of that effort:

These are one of my POV character’s thoughts. She’s a tad annoyed waiting for me to get it together, to find a direction for her story, and to get things right between her and her hubby.

“So you’re letting me be the muse, huh? It’s about time you stopped trying to figure out my story and started committing to putting down something concrete about it.”

From there my character pretty much outlined her story and gave me a great framework to draw upon. My next step is to do the same with the other POV characters. I’m hoping I don’t choke myself (again!) with all the ideas that come from this kind of brainstorming. That’s what happens: I get overwhelmed with all the info and can’t seem to find a start point to make functional use of it.

Becca Puglisi‘s guest postPurging Your Writing Fear spoke to me too. From that I was inspired to jot down two key affirmations. Those are on my nightstand. I’m seriously considering fancying them up a bit and framing them, so that they’re that much more visible to me on the day to day.

Here is one of them: I am can and will make _____ and _____’s story into a viable suspense/romantic novel. (It’s that suspense part messing with me. New territory.)

So, what are your thoughts on these topics? Have you tried Joy’s technique or written down affirmations/goals the way Becca suggests? Do you feel it’s been helpful? If so, how and/or why?

Thanks and have a great day!

Joanna

Books, Books, Books!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yes, I am FINISHED with my parenting-related series. (I linked to the first one. Feel free to take it from there, if you’re new or just interested.) Since then, I got inspired to do something a little more fun (or so I hope!).

Recently read a blog post by author, NYTBSA and indie publisher Bob Mayer. (His background is far more extensive and impressive than the little I listed here, lol. He ties all his experience in when giving one of his lively and informative workshops, which I was fortunate enough to participate in just last weekend.) When my comment to his post started going over the two-paragraph mark, I realized I’d been inspired to write one of my own.

In his post, Bob asked a lot of questions regarding reading, but these two spoke to me the most:

(1) What turned me on to reading, and (2) which is the first book that excited me?

Can’t remember what turned me on to reading: maybe my interest in almost anything or inner restlessness? (That would include reading bottles of cleaner in the bathroom, etc.)

I probably read EVERYTHING that passed my hands after the skill was established thru the Dick and Jane readers. Not that I claim those as the first to make my heart go pitter-patter. That questionable honor goes to the book that got me in trouble, to which I refer below.) The Little House Books are my all time favorites.

Little House on the Prairie cover

Aside: My kids and husband are S.I.C.K. of Laura Ingalls references to life then v. now, lol.

We had a great main library a few miles from home. My dad was really proud of my reading and brought me almost any time I asked. I’d check out the max amount of books every time.

Another aside: I rarely  brought everything back on time. Once, my mom forked over $21 or so in fines on one trip. That’s a lot of $$ for that time—and I was sworn to secrecy. She was afraid my dad would flip. Being Daddy’s li’l girl and how much he supported my passion, I’m sure he would have gotten over it soon enough.

The Poseidon Adventure was the first novel I read AFTER seeing the movie. That taught me to watch first, read later—the written version ALWAYS beats a screenplay, with no disappointment either way. That tenet held true for John Jakes North and South. (Of course I read the second part before the second ABC miniseries and was seriously disappointed. Not even Patrick Swayze and/or James Read made up for the differences from novel to the small screen.)

Recommending the first explicit romance novel I picked up got me in trouble with my older cousin and confirmation sponsor about the “literature” I was reading. (Talk about a heart going pitter-patter, lol, especially since I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading in some of those scenes. What did I know? I thought it was great and recommended it. The librarian had no business checking that stuff out to a 13 y/o, lol.)

Loves Avenging Heart cover(Wow. This many years later I recognized this cover immediately, lol.)

As a young adult, I came across Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind. That probably sparked my love of romance, and got me started on ALL of that author’s books (and maybe a deeply buried desire to emulate her sweeping love stories). BTW, that’s where the Aislinn in my nome-de-plume originated, from The Wolf and the Dove. Never had a daughter—nor would that lovely name have paired with what would have been her Italian surname. BUT: my debut novel was my baby and my dream. Since Aislinn is Gaelic (?) for vision or dream it seemed fitting.

Ashes in the Wind   wolf and dove

If I HAD to pick ONE book as a favorite: maybe I’d have to go with a tie between Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. (I’ve only read the latter three times. Last round, I bawled. Not sure I could do it again.)

Hidden Places  Flowers for Algernon

So, let’s open this up. How would you answer Bob Mayer’s questions and how has (or does) your reading influence you in little (or big) ways?

Have a great day and week all,

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 4–Doing What You Have to Do)

Happy Hump Day folks! Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. Not sure I can claim that, but at least I felt very productive. Think I haven’t slowed down yet, and definitely feeling the effects of that. So glad it’s not too much longer to the next weekend. :)

Promise to try and wrap this up series soon, people! Geez! I thought I would be sharing a simple incident based on a conversation with friends. As in my previous series related to parenting (Discipline Vs. Control), one post took on a life and direction of its own. (Wish some of my characters would do the same! :()

In case you missed them and are looking to catch up, here are links to the preceding posts, one, two and three.

Today’s thought: doing what I had to do as a parent without worrying about what someone else might think of my choices.

Some background points to help set the tone:

1. A kid has to know a parent means business.

2. A parent who means business doesn’t necessarily have to force the issue, nor does that parent have to be mean or angry to show s/he is serious about what s/he is expecting from a child.

3. Bullying takes on many forms. We who are trying to ‘teach our children to do the right thing’ by ‘making’ them do what we say might have to watch going over a fine line. (Trust me, I’ve gone over it TOO many times. Younger kids—and those older ones who just love pushing buttons will tip you over that line themselves.)

4. And unless what a parent is doing is abusive, emotionally and/or physically, a parent should just toss what others think out the nearest window. (Just sayin’.)

Case in point: When Older Son was five years old and in preschool, he tended to dawdle when it came time to get dressed. Being the model parent I was, I remember doing my fair share of yelling one morning. I needed to get Younger Son to nursery school, Older Son to school and me to work. (Luckily, I worked in the same building where Older Son attended preschool.)

The next day, I kept him home. He wasn’t feeling well.

Day after that, he was well enough to return to school. He so took his time not getting ready. I decided I would not shout or make a scene.

Time came to leave the house. Older Son was pretty much taken aback when I handed him his shoes. I very calmly told him we had to go. When he said something about not being dressed, I told him we had no time. He’d used his time playing rather than getting ready. (Not sure how he got his shoes over his footie PJs, but he did. And I’m lucky. He was never much of a tantrum-throwing child. Now that Younger Son kid…let’s not go there.)

So we dropped off Younger Son, which mean Older Son had to walk into the nursery school in his PJs. When he mentioned something about PJ’s and school, I reiterated that he hadn’t gotten dressed when he had the time.

Once we got to school, I took him to the nurse. Told my boy the nurse needed to see him since he’d been sick the day prior. (Yes, I fibbed. Judge me if you please, but there was a much greater cause at stake.)

In the nurse’s office, I handed Dawdle Boy a set of clothing I’d bagged on the sly. I told him any future episodes would not come with a back-up outfit. He’d be in PJs for the day.

I kid you not, friends. From that day forward, I have never, ever had a problem with that boy not being dressed for school. Chances are, I brought his clothes partly b/c I might have felt embarrassed having him show in pajamas, and I certainly didn’t want him to feel that way, so I came up with a compromise. Luckily, it worked.

I’m fairly friendly with a dad whose four-year old daughter was giving him a run for his money. On many occasions, this 6’4″ European-born man whose daughter reached just past his knee would have him complaining about how she wouldn’t get dressed; at school we’d see that manifested in how late he’d bring her in every day. (Mind you, there are other family circumstances that impact her behavior to this day, I’m sure. Our conversations, however, showed me he wasn’t willing to stand up to her behavior.)

One day last school year, I shared Older Son’s PJ story. The man’s jaw dropped. He seemed horror-struck.

That dad  was most likely worried about what someone else would think if his daughter showed in PJs.

Did I abuse my son in any way? He was warm and covered appropriately for the season. I didn’t yell or force him to do anything.

I did, however, show him I meant business.

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time. Getting past myself when I impose a limit, or consequence. Sometimes that’s way harder than dealing with what others think.

So how have you dealt with some of the stuff your cherubs–no matter the age–dish out? What was the result and how effective did you find how you handled a particular situation in the longer run?

Thanks so much, readers, followers and friends. Have a great week! No stressing re: upcoming holidays allowed–somehow, it all gets done!

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 3)

Happy Week after Thanksgiving, friends! I am truly grateful for every one of you, among the multiple blessings in my life. We had a wonderful day (somehow, without turkey to go with the leftover stuffing). And Younger Son turned 15 on Saturday. I had a houseful of loony boys, made five pizzas and a brownie version of a cake. Cleaned on Sunday. I definitely missed out on any ‘relax’ gene that might have been handed out in my family.

Thanksgiving 2013 Before all the sides dishes made it to the table. Too lazy to pull out the fine china and crystal this year. We got through. ;)

Okay, so we took a week off and now we’re back to talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and twoBTW, this series is not meant to be a tutorial on how to get kids to do chores.  I wanted to share  my own amazement at positive–unsolicited–behaviors from my guys of late, and how blessed I feel because of it. The rest, as the saying goes, seems to have taken on a life of its own.  

Here is where we left off: EXPECTING my children to BE responsible is probably the crux of what I hope to have taught them to date.

My end as a parent includes teaching–but more importantly–modeling responsibility. And, if possible, with a minimum of grumping. (An area in which I hope to have improved as they’ve gotten older. Not sure I always modeled graciousness, folks, especially when they were younger.)

Far as I can tell I started when they were very young. (At least I think I did!)

Cant’ say it was all that complicated either. (It shouldn’t be, especially if you want to insure success.)

One of the first things I did was have the kids make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does.) I always kept the job simple: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (Note: Their beds only had a fitted sheet. I’ve never used a flat top sheet b/c it’s a bit much for kids to handle getting the bed done the way this mamma likes, so I skip it to this day.)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their clothes—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to outfits I liked, especially since I most likely picked out most of them at the store. ;).

My other biggie: I handed each kid his backpack to carry from Day One. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but gave them back immediately upon completing the race.

(That’s subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Her daughters walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. ‘Nough said.

And just the other day, my neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her kindergarten-aged twin boys. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys are getting.

Next time: Not being afraid to do what you have to do.

Working on Consistency (and Inspired Some More :)

Hi everyone. Hope everyone is having a great week and not overdoing any leftover Halloween candy. I’m always scrounging out the Mounds and Almond Joys. They’re few and far between, but M & Ms work too—anyone try the candy corn ones? Those are definitely different, in an addictive, not-sure-I-like-them kind of way. ;)) What are your favorites?

Life keeps handing me these highly convenient “coinkidinks,” as my boys’ kindergarten teacher used to say. And y’all know, when I’m feeling inspired, I like to tell you about it! (If nothing else, it’s a reason for me to write up a blog post, lol.)

So…

Recently, I took my mom’s car for inspection. She failed emissions and we finally got it to a place to check it out. She wasn’t thrilled with the repair-price tune of near-$500, so we took it elsewhere. The second guy said the quote we got was fair. Hubby wasn’t all that thrilled with the second guy, so a couple of days later, I took mom’s car back to the first shop.

No one was at the desk in the office. I waited a few minutes, and the door opened behind me. The younger guy who normally mans the computer came in.

“Is anybody helping you?”

I shrugged. “Not yet. Aren’t you the important guy?”

“I’m off,” he said, but headed into the garage. He came back with the older guy, who has to be 80-something.

I reminded them they’d diagnosed my mom’s car, but I was clueless about what I’d done with the printout, which listed the work that needed to be done. “I figured you have it in your computer and can pull it up, right?”

Older guy’s mouth gapped a bit while he offered a slight, negative shake of his head. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Younger guy stepped in, tapped a few keys and out came my printout. More customers came in. “You want the car tomorrow?”

I smiled, nodded and pulled open the door. “Get out now,” I said in a loud whisper, before I exited.

Now tell me younger guy just happened to come in on his day off exactly when I needed him to be there.

Life changing?

Nah.

Inspiring?

Always.

Hey, I’m always up to stories of the like. How about sharing yours? And maybe this post with some of your friends, via one of the share buttons below?

Many thanks!

Be inspired, and have a great day, friends!

Joanna

Easiest Cake. Period.

Hi all. Took three rounds of trying to get this post in place. Somehow the formatting wound up mixed up. I won’t fight with software, but I might have happened on some understanding about plain text vs. HTML. Honestly, almost everything I’ve ever learned about a computer has been incidental.

Let’s move on, folks. I’ll celebrate later.

Hope those of you who celebrate had a hoppin’ Halloween! With trunk-or-treat in my neighborhood, I didn’t see a somewhat steady stream of trick-or-treaters until almost 6:30 PM. And I never thought I’d miss taking kids out candy-seeking, but… :(

Kids on halloween 2013 My older guy–2nd in from the right–and his buds turned a friend’s garage and lawn into the neighborhood haunted house and ghouled it all themselves. Have a feeling a lot of little kids lost sleep that night. Some though, walked right up for candy, no apprehension at all! 

So one of my favorite teacher friends brought in a cake for our teachers’ Halloween breakfast–ever eat pudding by holding it in your hand?

I’d say that’s almost what this was. A texture like I’ve never had. My teacher friend kept asking about how to top it.

 It.

Needed.

Nothing. 

Cake mix. Canned pumpkin pie mix. A ‘little’ evaporated milk.

Of course I had to try it. Of course I made my tweaks to the recipe. (Drives hubby nuts but he doesn’t eat most of my stuff anyway, whether I stick to a recipe or not.)

Then Stacey asked about it, so…

Here’s my version:

One box white cake mix (yellow tastes too strong for my preferences)

One 15 oz can of pumpkin. (Pumpkin pie mix is already sweetened. Figure using the ‘mix’ will yield a much sweeter dessert.)

I added, IDK, 1/8th cup of buttermilk to make it easier to stir?

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir until fully combined/incorporated. Batter will be thick. You’ll probably need to scrape one scapula with another to get the batter into a pan. (I used an OVAL 9 x 13 pan; didn’t have the 11x7x2 one of the recipes I read called for. It worked fine.)

Bake at 350 about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sprinkled brown sugar on top when done and covered with waxed paper to retain moisture. Tastes even better the next day, but then again, most things pumpkin do.

pumpkin cake I gave almost half away. Had to.

I’m thinking this would be awesome with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I mean, is there an easier dessert for Thanksgiving?

Have a great day,

Joanna

God, a Keurig and Working My Way Back

Hi all! So glad to be back (and having a little fun with the blog-theme, in honor of Halloween later this week)! So sorry for going off radar since July of this year. Hope all is well with all of you. Special thanks to my newest follower, the awesome PJ Reece, whose rockin-insightful writing-related posts never fail to inspire me. I am humbled. If you are so inclined, please check out his wonderful website and blog! His Story Structure to Die For is an EXCELLENT reference and a quick, fun and enlightening read, too.

Geez! One paragraph in and off-topic already. Please indulge me in the thoughts that follow.  Please note, I enjoy sharing stories of moments in life that inspire me. What you take from that is entirely up to you! :)

Having said that…

I do not consider myself religious, at least not anymore. I was raised in the Catholic church; my firm belief in its tenets at that time was among the reasons I managed to make choices that helped keep me out of trouble as a teen and as a young adult. By my mid-twenties, however, I began more of a spiritual journey.

Today I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I choose to name the guiding force in my life God. My faith is stronger than it has ever been, but not necessarily tied to the teachings of any particular religion. (“The closer I get to God, the further I get from religion,” Bono of U2 fame has said on more than one occasion. That statement has stuck with me since the first time I heard my birthday buddy say it, well over a decade ago. Yep, U2 and I, we’ve been around a while, lol. And Bono and I just happen to have been born the same day, same year–you know ;).)

Anyway, I had one heck of summer, friends. First one ever I didn’t mind seeing come to an end, even with the return to the school day on a weekly basis. For once, I looked forward to the routine a regular schedule would bring.

As I stated in another post, a family matter took up a slew of my time and energy. For too many days and then weeks in a row, I woke up feeling depressed, overwhelmed and wondering how to handle a situation and somehow maintain balance in my—and my family’s—day to day.

One Saturday morning in particular, I was feeling pretty blue. Hubby came up to let me know he’d had to brew a second pot of coffee; for some reason, the coffee seeped out somewhere from the bottom of the coffee maker and all over the counter. Since that’s pretty much what happened with the last one (same brand, different model), I figured it might be time to break down and get the Keurig, a move I’d been avoiding. (I’m not crazy for the single cup coffee maker, not to mention the price for one is typically in the triple digits, or at the higher end of the double digits.)

That morning’s weather happened to be perfect. I went out for my walk and met up with some friends. I shared my main concerns and put out a general request for help relative to the family situation, willing to take any suggestions and/or offers. Two ladies approached me with very viable possibilities. Another told me she was living a similar situation. She gave me her phone number, to call or text any time, “just to talk” should I feel the need.

My walk home had me feeling deeply grateful, humbled and in awe of how I believe God had shown up, proof that He was working in my life that day. My older son was calling me, too, wanting to know when I’d be home. He had a “surprise” he was convinced I was going to love.

My thoughts shifted to my boys and how blessed I feel with how they’re turning out so far. At just about 17 and 15, I can’t ask for better. (Well, maybe the younger one—sometimes—but overall he’s much improved, lol.) More proof that God was present, and that all would work out with my family situation.

Soon as I got home I was hit hard with another reminder of God’s action. Funny how, on some days, divine intervention shows a direct line.

On my counter sat a boxed Keurig coffee maker.

Huh????

My older son had just bought it a yard sale, at the low double-digit price I’d paid for the coffee maker that leaked earlier that morning.

If that ain’t divine intervention folks, I don’t know what is. (Just sayin’. )

photo (46) (Here they rest, side by side. The kid was so excited, hubby and I didn’t have the heart to tell him he wasn’t keeping a second coffee maker on the counter. At least he uses it daily–sometimes more. :))

Anything like that ever happen to you? Do you see it as coincidence, or something bigger than you or me stepping in? Take a moment and inspire me some more, please.

And just sayin’, have a great day!

Thanks for stopping in, and for your time and support.

Hugs,

Joanna

Wimbledon Tradition: “Strawberries and Cream” (Joanna-adapted!)

In Honor of Wimbledon—“Strawberries and Cream”!

Good day friends, guests and followers,

photo (21) This li’l cutie (might be Henry, a regular) got caught red-pawed in my yard and had the nerve to look directly at the camera too. Never again in this lifetime, lol. 

rhododendron in vase Rhododendron from my front yard. Just liked how this looked and had to share! :)

Of course this post was supposed to be only about fruit and cream, but y’all know how easily sidetracked Joanna gets. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

So sad to watch Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer go out so early in this highly anticipated annual tournament (especially after my ranting about seeds in my previous post). End of an era? Changing of the guard?

Possibly. I’m sure though, providing a little more time between the French Open and Wimbledon Tennis Championships would so a difference make. About three weeks separate the “Channel Slams” (partly because of each’s location across the English Channel). Not exactly much time to recover from the clay court season and prepare for a ridiculously short-lived grass court season. Heck: the Australian is held the end of January. The next slam is the French, which starts the Monday before Memorial Day (U.S. A.) in May. Wimbledon follows beginning the last week of June. Then no grand-slam action until the last week of August. I’m sure there are required tournaments to be played during the hard-court season, but players can also build in a little regroup time too.  (IMHO, the scheduling officials really need to look at this. Players are human after all. Then again, what do I know?)

Oh well, it is what it is, and Wimbledon is obviously happening without these fan-favorite past champions. It’s also going on minus a handful of top male players and women (i.e., Victoria Azarenka) out with injuries after slips and slides on the slick grass surface of the first week. Former Grand Slam champion, Wimbledon finalist, Tennis Hall of Fame and current Davis cup captain Jim Courier commented about the game being so much more aggressive now. The Wimbledon courts are still being groomed as they were about a century ago, when play was with wooden racquets and the balls didn’t move as hard and fast as they do nowadays. Hmm: very interesting point.

All Wimby 2013 facts and conjecture aside, this tourney is best known for its traditions. Wearing all white garb on the court. No play on “Middle Sunday, ”  among others.

And this one (finally): The topic of today’s post: Strawberries and Cream! A favorite, I’m sure, during every “Breakfast at Wimbledon”. Here are a few images of what theirs looks like. 0:-)

This ain’t no strawberries and whipped cream, folks. European cream is a lot different. In England, it is known as double cream, is not aerated and so thick it has be spooned as it doesn’t pour.  (This, as described by late author Laurie Colwin, in her novel Home Cooking.) I’ve had a similar Italian version (a.k.a. panna), many times over granita, similar to a “slushie” or Italian ice, in strawberry or coffee versions. Yes, many people make it here, but it just ain’t the same. (And trust, me: pure fat ain’t low in the calorie count neither.)

So: what does Joanna do? Come up with a healthy—no less tasty—version of same! (Hey, if it tastes like you’re giving something up, it’s not worth it.) And of course, it’s seriously easy-peasy.

What you’ll need (serves one person):

Fresh strawberries, hulled, or hulled and sliced. (Your choice on how many ;) )

Roughly equal parts non-fat plain regular and Greek-strained yogurts (1/2-cup each is good, but you can adjust to taste/preference in consistency)

Vanilla (a few drops to taste)

Sugar, sugar substitute (i.e., Splenda, Stevia, etc) or honey (again, you decide how much based on how sweet you like)

Sugar-free non-dairy creamer (French vanilla or hazelnut—optional)

What to do:

Combine the yogurts, vanilla, sweetener (and non-dairy creamer); stir until smooth.

Pour over strawberries or plop them into the mix, as did I.

strawberries n cream Threw this serving together last-minute before taking off to the day job. Worked for me. :)

Eat and watch Wimbledon!

Mixing the yogurts creates a consistency pretty similar to that of panna and most likely, double cream. It also cuts the tartness and thickness of the Greek yogurt, while thickening up the regular yogurt. Try it and let me know what you think. Feel free to substitute blueberries, peaches—whatever your favorites are!

I also keep thinking about freezing myself some yogurt pops using this mix. Again, it’s all about consistency with NO FAT (or sugar, should you go that route).

So, what do you think? Ready to give it a try?

*You can also use pre-flavored vanillas of each or one. (Doesn’t matter which one). I stick to plain yogurts b/c the ready-made tend to be very high in sugar, and the sugar-free version is a bit too sweet for my taste.

Happy rest of Wimbledon–and the week, of course!

Joanna

Blueberry Cobbler is Easier than Pie!

No rolling crusts–who’s got time for that????

Hi all!

This post is dedicated to my mamma-via-marriage, since she recently asked me to jot down the recipe.

So…

Inspired by the peach cobbler recipe hiding at my Recipe Central page, I had to try a blueberry version.  (I came by Zoe’s awesome original at New Hampshire’s Fitzwilliam Inn; it’s about the third entry, dated August 30, 2010–just scroll down the page).

It doesn’t get easier than this! I’ve put this together before school and taken it in warm! People think I worked so hard to make it… ;)

What you’ll need:

2-1/4 cups of oatmeal (old-fashioned cook type works really well, but I’m sure you can get away with using instant)

1 stick of butter (you’ll get away with ¾ of one too)—the softer the better, but NOT melted

½ cup brown sugar

½ can (21 oz) blueberry pie filling

1 pint container of fresh blueberries (or about ½ of a 16-oz bag of frozen, thawed)—fresh is better

¼ cup of white sugar (you can probably substitute granulated Splenda or even use packets to taste—or skip sugar entirely, if you’re into the tartness of blueberries)

What to do:

Mash the oatmeal and brown sugar with the butter until the mixture resembles a thick paste. Spray a pan with cooking spray and press about ¾ of it into a 9-inch glass pie pan to form a crust.

In a bowl mix the blueberry filling, blueberries and white sugar. Pour over the crust.

Crumble and sprinkle the remaining paste on top of the blueberry mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350º F for about 35 minutes, or until crust is very lightly browned and blueberry mixture is bubbly.

blueberry cobbler   bluberry cobbler 2

Serve warm, room temperature or cold. Top with ice cream, whipped cream (or both!). I refrigerate leftovers then heat for breakfast and top with non-fat Greek yogurt flavored with vanilla. Welcome to blueberries and “cream” minus a slew of the guilt. Yum!

TTFN and have a great week!

Joanna